Search icon


27th Jun 2021

The Dutch have a parenting tradition that could make your life a lot easier

Trine Jensen-Burke

Much as we all love our kids – and I know we all really, really do – there is no denying that motherhood is pretty darn full on, no?

I mean – keeping all those balls in the air, the show on the road, the family alive and thriving while also holding down a job – it is not a job for the faint hearted, that’s for sure.

Which is why I am sure we all occasionally dream of a bit of break from it all – even just for mere moments.

And guys – this would all be entirely possible – if we just all relocated to Holland.

If you think moving to a different country sounds a bit extreme – wait ’til you hear of the rather genius Dutch parenting tradition they call ‘Papadag’ – a word that loosely translates into ‘Daddy’s Day.’

What this is, my friends and fellow exhausted mothers, is traditionally a regular day a week (or every fortnight) that dads take on the parenting duties. Leaving mum – yes, that’s right – off the hook for an entire day every week (or fortnight).

According to Kidspot, this was often a Wednesday and some families adjust this to suit their own needs. The bottom line is that mums get a regular day off from parenting duties and the dads take on the mental load of the default parent, while also enjoying more time bonding with their children.

According to national statistics, over a third of men in the Netherlands work a reduced work week. In fact, a whopping 25 percent of Dutch men officially work part-time. This is an enormously high figure, especially when compared to the European average of 8 percent.  Furthermore, a large portion of men who work full-time (36 hours) choose to do so over the course of a four-day work week, rather than the traditional five.

Dutch employers are highly accustomed to the “daddy-day” arrangement and often offer it as selling-point in interviews or contract negotiations. It does help that, according to the Economist, the Netherlands has a “rather laid-back approach to work: with more than half of the Dutch working population working part-time, a far greater share than in any other rich-world country”.

So as part of a national tradition, many of these men opt to take Wednesdays off work, spend the day with their children – and therefore letting mum of the hook for an entire day every week.